From leadership.is …

In the past months I have been contemplating the use of leadership in connection to horses. I see a roughly three perspectives – two of those don’t fit my experience and all of them – including my favourite – probably miss something or a lot of the real proces going on in a horse herd…
There are still those who equate leadership to dominance, to being the boss, to making sure the horse does what you want… this has its limits when we think about horses and when it is coupled with “coaching” of people it perpetuates the type of “leadership” that has (fortunately) died out in many organisations in 2018 …

Then there are those who simply say leadership has no place in a horse herd or a horse human relationship. When I listen closely I think I hear people say that they don’t believe in the leadership that the first group tries to popularise. And that makes absolute sense, and that’s then more a question of their definition of leadership rather than leadership not being present or helpful for horses. The challenge becomes finding a common ground on the definition when the word also carries so much baggage – when so often leadership and being boss are equated when the ghost of the alpha leaders still roams the paddock paradise…

A third option is to compare modern ideas of leadership to a horse herd, I see many similarities. Just as our perspective on leadership in organisations has shifted so the myth of the lead mare and the driving and protecting stallion is also loosing ground. If we see leadership as a proces which combines moves of leading and following by all who participate in the process, it makes as much sense to see that in a horse to horse and horse to human relationship as in a human to human relationship. Our seeing has changed in the past 20 years and it is more and more normal to see leadership as a distributed process rather than the actions of one person (or horse). This is how I understand leadership in organisations multi layered, formal and informal, tangible and intangible – and it is easy to apply this to a horse herd too… and yet

I sensed there was a horse wisdom I was missing … the discussion missed that perhaps this third way needs a different word…

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